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Albanian bodies in Belgrade grave

Slobodan Milosevic is due to face war crimes charges  

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- At least 36 bodies, believed to be Kosovo Albanians, have been exhumed from a mass grave in a police compound in Yugoslavia.

A court in Belgrade said Serb forensic experts had exhumed the bodies, including several children, which were dressed in civilian clothing.

The Belgrade district court said in a statement the decayed bodies had not yet been identified.

"So far it has been established there were nine bodies of children under seven, including the body of an eight-month old fetus. Most of the bodies were in an advanced stage of decay," it said.

A local radio station said they were believed to be Kosovo Albanians from the same village.

The news emerged as a Serb political source said that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was on his way to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The district court said those found in the grave were of different ages and of both sexes, adding that more analysis was needed to determine the cause of death.

The exhumation and autopsy had been monitored by representatives from the U.N. war crimes court and other international officials, it said.

Quoting Interior Ministry sources, Belgrade's B92 radio earlier said the dead were from the Kosovo village of Suva Reka, according to identity papers and other documents.

The village was one of several mentioned in the U.N. tribunal's indictment against Milosevic and four of his senior officials issued in May 1999 during NATO's bombing campaign to halt Belgrade's repression of Kosovo's majority Albanians.

Serbia's new authorities last month accused Milosevic, toppled in October and arrested in April for alleged abuse of power, and top aides of covering up evidence of possible war crimes in Kosovo.

Police this month said they had started exhuming bodies from the site at a police training ground in the Belgrade suburb of Batajnica.

It was believed to hold bodies from a freezer truck dumped and later recovered from the Danube River in 1999.

The tribunal indictment against Milosevic says Yugoslav and Serb forces entered Suva Reka on the morning of March 25, 1999, the day after NATO began its bombing campaign.

"During the following days, police officers went from house to house, threatening Kosovo Albanian residents, and removing many of the people from their homes at gunpoint," it said.

"The women, children and elderly were sent away by the police and then a number of the men were killed ... ," it added.

Belgrade media recently reported that another mass grave discovered in eastern Serbia near a training facility used by Serbian state security forces was also believed to hold bodies taken there during the Kosovo conflict.

• Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

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